I edit narrative and investigative projects at The New York Times, and I also edit the weekly Sunday Business section, which focuses on creative narrative business reportage. Soon I’ll be moving to the Times’s Climate team as deputy editor, helping to guide coverage of one of the most important issues that all of us, together, face.

Before joining the Times I was a wayfaring writer and photographer for The Wall Street Journal, focused on South Asia. Before that I was a WSJ Page One editor working on narratives and interactives such as this one. I edited this project on the end of privacy, a Pulitzer finalist.

Some people call it “long form” but there’s a better word for it. Storytelling.

I’ve lived and worked as a journalist in New York, New Delhi, Hong Kong and small-town America, where my family published a century-old newspaper.

Nice things have been said by nice people from Boingboing, Human Rights Watch, the Annals of Improbable Research, the Museum of Modern Art and even planet Twitter.

Please visit Starve Hollow Road for more photography as well as occasional essays on subjects such as a reader’s touching letter, a coal-powered iron, being buried alive and the place where I grew up.

The Dalai Lama hands out one of my stories, sometimes.


At The New York Times I work with reporters and editors in the Business Day section on investigative and storytelling projects. (And I sometimes write for the Times, and for myself.) I also edit the Sunday Business section, which I’ve developed as a home for creative, visual and written storytelling. Later this year I’ll be joining the Times’s Climate team, which was created just this year and is already doing groundbreaking work on the profoundly important subject of our shared future, and our shared home. As deputy editor, I’ll be helping to guide the coverage.

As the enterprise editor in Business Day, I’ve worked on some of the paper’s most ambitious business reporting projects including “Bottom Line Nation,” “Uncertain Harvest” and “Education Disrupted.”

Before joining the Times I was a roving correspondent focused on South Asia for The Wall Street Journal. So here’s a piece on Himalayan traffic jams. And one on Cambodia’s handmade bamboo trains (with a video).

I’ve written about:

A candy shop that’s a burn clinic (with photo essay), a bus tragedy (with this interactive), a young woman set on fire (with photo essay) and her family’s dark history, controversial cattle activists (with video), nuclear plants in tsunami zones (with video), a double hanging in a mango tree (photo essay), Nepal’s terrible earthquake (photo essay), this surreal drill team, India’s accidentally groovy wristwatches, a wicker basket for abandoning babies, one-horsepower taxis (with video), the child-goddesses of the Kathmandu valley (with video) and the men who live under a bridge, by a sacred river, and dive for coins. The world’s fastest ocean liner (with this video). An unusual parade in the American midwest. The slaughter of Nepal’s god-king and the bizarre rumor mill that followed his death. Great Britain’s unhappy mercenaries.

As an editor at the NYT and WSJ I’ve worked with brilliant reporters on coverage of:

The veracity of Truman Capote’s masterwork “In Cold Blood.” The rise of cage fighting. This Silicon Valley juice evangelist. A man who got a federal criminal record because of a clogged toilet. Our emerging velvet rope economy. San Francisco’s housing anarchists. Aggressive investors who destroyed ambulance companies. A woman’s six-year descent into all-but-incurable tuberculosis. Vietnam’s bride kidnappers. America’s housing crisis. Stretch limos that are too long. Midwives who murder babies. FBI informants who snitch on their girlfriends. Getting naked in Vermont.

As a WSJ Page One editor I worked on many of the paper’s most important projects. I edited “The Lobotomy Files” and helped to conceive its interactive design. I edited this years-long project on the end of privacy, a Pulitzer finalist, as well as lots of “A-heds.”

In 2013 I edited portraits of the young woman who was raped and then murdered on a bus in New Delhi, and her best friend. I encourage you to read these accounts of their forbidden affection.

In the early 2000s I was the WSJ correspondent in New Delhi. I wrote about the September 11, 2001, terror attacks from Islamabad, Pakistan.


An online gallery can be seen at Starve Hollow Road, which is named in honor of the place where I grew up.

Photography by me has shown up in The Wall Street Journal (for example here, here, here, here and here), Marie Claire, The Daily Beast, dearly departed Newsweek and other publications. My photos have been exhibited at the Exit Art gallery, New York; Photographic Gallery, Front St., New York; Chrystie Street Gallery, Chrystie St., New York; ABC No Rio, Rivington St., New York; the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts; and the Edward Hopper House, Nyack, N.Y.


For all your Jesse Pesta news, there’s always Twitter @jessepesta. Until then:

November 2017: After two years as the projects editor for business coverage at The New York Times ~ helping with some of the Times’s most ambitious business reporting, including “Bottom Line Nation,” “Uncertain Harvest” and “Education Disrupted” (and editing the Sunday Business section, too) ~ I’m thrilled to be moving over to the Times’s superb team of climate reporters and editors, as deputy.

February 2017: Helped judge the Overseas Press Club’s Morton Frank award for magazine writing at the invitation of the wonderful Farnaz Fassihi. We read some terrific work.

July 2016: A piece I wrote with Preetika Rana, “The Dangerous Meeting of Women and Fire,” won the the South Asian Journalists Association’s top prize for enterprise reporting. And the interactive project “Death on India’s Route 66,”, with Krishna Pokharel and Preetika Rana, won the Clarion for feature writing. Here’s the interactive part, where we profile everyone on the bus that fateful night.

“Women and Fire” also received honorable mention for feature writing from the Society for Features Journalism ~ a particular honor considering the winner in the category was the AP’s slavery project, which of course won the Pulitzer.

January 2016: Delighted to be an adviser again to master’s students at Columbia University’s graduate program for investigative journalism, the Stabile Center.

Oct. 7, 2015: Here’s my first NYT byline, a news-breaking piece on the S.S. United States.

Update: Against all odds, the ship might actually sail again.

Sept. 21, 2015: I’ve joined The New York Times as an enterprise and project editor.

January 2015: Xeni Jardin at Boingboing kind of digs the lede on this piece about a surreal yet badass motorcycle stunt team.

September 2014: The Dalai Lama pulls out a copy of this thing that I wrote.

April-June 2014:The Lobotomy Files” is honored by the National Press Club and receives the 2014 Ancil Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism. This is the second project I’ve edited to receive Ancil Payne honors: In 2010 (see below) Farnaz Fassihi’s outstanding reporting on Iran, “Hearts, Minds and Blood,” was recognized.

Describing “The Lobotomy Files,” the judges said: “We are particularly impressed with the ethical consciousness” behind the determination to do the story right, “for the man who was still alive.”

February 2014: After six years as a Page One editor, I returned to reporting for the WSJ as a traveling writer focused on South Asia.

Oct. 15, 2013: The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists honors the Journal’s reporting on tuberculosis with the Daniel Pearl prize, its highest award.

April 16, 2012: “The End of Privacy,” The Wall Street Journal’s coverage of the erosion of privacy in the U.S., is named a finalist for the Pulitzer prize in explanatory reporting.

June 3-Aug. 5, 2011: Selected photos on exhibit at the Exit Art gallery in New York as part of the gallery’s Contemporary Slavery exhibition.

March 26, 2011: Represented The Wall Street Journal in a presentation at Yale Law School to discuss personal privacy and the online advertising business.

Sept. 25, 2010: I spoke about working with Danny Pearl at Music for Humanity, a concert commemorating Danny’s life.

Here’s a video of the remarks. The talking starts about a minute in.

April/May, 2010: The WSJ’s Iran coverage, “Hearts, Minds and Blood,” wins two prizes for foreign correspondence, from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Overseas Press Club, as well as the Robert F. Kennedy award and the Payne Award for Ethics.

April 8, 2010: Represented the WSJ on a Nieman Foundation panel on fairness in writing.

Aug. 12, 1994: My first “A-hed,” about an interesting parade, hits the Journal’s front page.


Jesse @ JessePesta com


Jesse Pesta

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The main portrait is the work of the incomparable Jennifer MacFarlane